12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"Alcina" is ultimately a mixed bag,
This review is from: Handel: Alcina (Wiener Staatsoper Live) [Blu-ray]  (Blu-ray)
This "Alcina" has much to commend it. It is beautifully dressed and the playing of Les Musiciens du Louvre-Grenoble is superb under the baton of the excellent Marc Minkowski. The production generally works, although some of the antics of the on-stage "audience" are distracting at times, particularly during Ruggiero's showpiece in Act Three.
The singing is more problematic. Anja Harteros is amazing in the title role. She has a big, flexible, steady voice which she uses confidently throughout the performance. At no time does she appear to be under strain vocally and, having striking good looks, she is very believable as Alcina. The men are also excellent. It is a pity that Adam Plachetka, as Melisso, has such a small amount to sing, so rich and secure is his tone. It is also a pity that Benjamiin Bruns, as Oronte, loses his Act Two aria. He has a beautiful voice which is well suited to Baroque music and he sings his other two arias very well indeed. Kristina Hammarstrom is good as Bradamante and Alois Muhlbacher sings the young Oberto very affectingly (it's great to hear a treble sing this role). I was slightly disappointed with Veronica Cangemi's Morgana. The top was not as easy as I expected from her, but having said that she basically gave a good performance.
This leaves the Ruggiero of Vesselina Kasarova. To say that her performance was eccentric is being kind. I have no doubt that she gave the acting performance the director wanted, but I found it to be distracting and, at times, nonsensical. Her singing left much to be desired. Throughout the opera she sang in a very mannered fashion with an alarming break in her voice which she seemed to have to sing over in several of her arias, this making for unpleasant listening. I hope she is able to rectify this in the future. I have some lovely performances from her on both cd and dvd. Sadly this isn't one of them.
So, all in all, a very good performance with, of course, a gorgeous, crisp picture and amazing sound! This is worth having for the Alcina of Anja Harteros alone, but there is much more to admire in it.